Re: Did Peter walk on water?

Date: Fri Sep 27 2002 - 13:25:04 EDT

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    George Murphy wrote:

    One biblical scholar who has done such work is Robert Gundry, whose
      _Matthew: A Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art_ (Eerdmans, 1982)
      deals with such questions for the entire gospel. His conclusion about the
      Petrine part of our text may be worth quoting (p.300);

               "The several echoes of the story about the earlier storm and the
      preceding part of the present story, the heavily Matthean diction, the
      theological motifs characteristic of Matthew, and the possible allusions to
      OT make it difficult to resist the conclusion that Matthew did not draw the
      material in vv 28-31 from tradition, but composed it as a haggadic midrash on
      discipleship: confessing Jesus as Lord, obeying Jesus' command, being guilty
      little faith in persecution, crying out for deliverance, and being recued and
      rebuked by Jesus."

    Well, I realize that the reading could be different
    between then and now, and there are cultural things,
    and symbolic things, and so on and so forth. Undoubtedly this
    incident does raise impressions of
    Elijah and Elisha crossing the Jordon. Indeed, in
    an even bigger way because it was not just the
    Jordon, but something much bigger.

    Yet all this said and done, calling the work some
    sort of "haggadic midrash" renders it little more
    than an utterly opaque, turgid, tale. Grander themes
    aside, it was my understanding that the Gospels were
    intended to appeal to the common folk. Yes Matthew
    is trying to persuade the Jewish folk, and I'm sure
    that he felt some obligation to impress the readership with his great
    knowledge of Jews traditions and so forth. The Jews
    were certainly familiar with themes of the OT, yet
    if the NT requires me to read countless horrendously thick tomes with
    references to countless other thick
    tomes just to extract some tiny fragment of truth,
    what is the point? A general familiarity with the
    OT would already make these themes visible to somewhat
    lesser folk than the great rabbis of the day.

    In the end, I would either have to feel that whatever
    words are used for it, "haggadic midrash" is one step
    short of the word for "hogwash" as best I can see it.
    It becomes a useless exercise to try to draw out any
    truth in something that muddy. I can accept that I've
    been taken for a fool. I support the Christian faith
    because I see more in it as an objective, and I suspect
    our survival as a human race is dependent on our
    submitting to God and much of Christ's views.

    However, in the end, if something is really false,
    we don't simply believe it anyway. If life is
    mere probablilities, and material is all there is
    and ever will be, then we are talking a different
    set of rules. The issue here is whether there is
    more or not. Where is your faith George? Have
    you really bowed down to the Great Machine?

    Maybe I have missed something, and I am the first
    to confess that I have much to learn still, but
    either Jesus is much greater than Elijah, or he
    was just another Rasputin with some fantastic idea
    that a lot of people got hornswaggle on. Given that
    it is true that Jesus was greater than Elijah, then
    I would conclude that whatever the themes and stylistic
    issues of the scripture are, the apostles were telling
    the truth. Here then, faith in their honesty, is what each of us is
    asked to make a decision on. I don't
    know the answer either George, but I'll walk the road
    of faith before I listen to this kind of muddle.

    by Grace alone we proceed,

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